‘This is home:’ LaBatte signs 4 more years with Riders

By Arielle Zerr/CJME News Staff
October 24, 2017 - 10:19am

It’s a good thing Brendon LaBatte looks good in green because he’s not going anywhere for a long time.

The homegrown offensive lineman for the Saskatchewan Roughriders has signed a four-year contract extension that will keep him with the club until 2021.

LaBatte will be 35 years old by then, with 14 years in the CFL under his belt.

“We can see where we’re going after that, but I feel good where I’m at right now in my career that (I’ll be able) to continue to play at this level for four more years,” LaBatte said after practice Monday.

The player’s 2017 campaign came after a troubling 2016 season.

For weeks, LaBatte and the Roughriders operated on the assumption he had a concussion. However, after six weeks of showing little improvement, they realized it could be something else.

LaBatte was sent to the southern United States to see a specialist and it turned out it was something else: a bruised nerve in his neck.

With help from the specialist, they were able to develop a plan to get LaBatte back on the field, which cleared the way for him to continue to play football long term.

“Once I got back (from the injury), the aim of the game was to prove I could be out here practising everyday and go out on the field every week and contribute,” LaBatte said.

“Once I hit 14/15 games and hadn’t been feeling any ill effects, I knew I had more football left and it was a no brainer to try and get signed up to play that here.”

LaBatte likely showed his worth when he was able to seamlessly switch from his position at left guard to centre when Dan Clark was injured earlier in the year and missed 10 games.

“He’s very versatile. He can play centre, he can play guard, he can play tackle,” said head coach Chris Jones.

“He’s a staple of this organization. He’s been here a long time. He’s been a good football player for a long time as well.”

Not only is the offensive lineman a good player, he’s also makes a good agent — LaBatte represented himself in his contract negotiations for the second time in his career.

He said he’s not sure if there’s advantage to it, but it’s something he felt comfortable doing.

“Things just go a little smoother when there’s no middle man and you guys can look each other in the face across the table,” LaBatte said.

LaBatte said there was a little unease with a new set of coaches and football operation staff coming in, along with signing a one-year deal.

“When a new regime comes in and you don’t know exactly where you sit and you’re going year by year it’s a little uneasy,” he said.

“But when they offer you a commitment … that says a lot in terms of how they feel about me and, likewise, it’s going to be reflected in how I go about my business here.”

Besides, there’s nowhere else he’d rather be anyway.

“This is home for me, so I never wanted to leave,” he said.

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